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Disaster Resilient Communities. Communities That Can Tolerate and Overcome: -- Damage -- Diminished Productivity, and -- Reduced Quality of Life From Extreme Event Without Significant Outside Assistance. Guidelines for Improving Ability To Deal with Hazards.

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Disaster Resilient Communities

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Disaster resilient communities l.jpg

Disaster Resilient Communities

Communities That Can Tolerate and Overcome:

-- Damage

-- Diminished Productivity, and

-- Reduced Quality of Life

From Extreme Event

Without Significant Outside Assistance.


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Guidelines for Improving Ability To Deal with Hazards

  • Adopt Global Systems Perspective

  • Accept Responsibility for Hazards/Disasters

  • Challenge Traditional Planning Model

  • Reject Short-Term Thinking.

  • Account for Social Forces.

  • Embrace Sustainable Development.


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Global Systems Perspective

  • Disasters Are Not Unexpected

  • Predictable Result of Interactions of:

    • The physical environment

    • People

    • The built infrastructure


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Accept Responsibility

  • Disaster Losses Tend to Result From

    • Combination of natural forces and

    • Human nature.

  • Humans then, not nature, are the cause of significant disaster losses.

  • Stem from choices made on where and how to live and build.


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Challenge Traditional Planning Model

  • Study Problem, Implement Solution, Move-On

  • Is not working

    • Losses going up

    • More people at risk

  • Disasters Take Place Within Social Systems


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Reject Short-Term Thinking

  • Cultural/Economic Predisposition

  • Short-Sighted

  • Ignores Effects of Today’s Decisions on Tomorrow’s Generation

  • Underplays Effect on the Environment

  • Frequently not Equitable


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Account for Social Forces

  • Looking at Physical Environment Not Enough.

  • Need Broader Context of

    • Social,

    • Cultural, Economic and

    • Political Spheres.


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Embrace Sustainable Development

  • Unconstrained Development = Disaster

  • Embrace principles that allow

    • Development of disaster resilient communities

    • Within a sustainable development context


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Sustainable Development Objectives

  • Maintain/Enhance Environmental Quality

  • Maintain and Enhance Quality of Life

  • Foster Local Resiliency and Responsibility

  • Smart Growth

  • Ensure Inter/Intra-Governmental Equity

  • Adopt Local Consensus Building


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Disaster Losses Are Enormous

  • $500 Billion Disaster Losses Last Decade

  • Averages About $50 Billion Per Year

  • Average 1,500 Annual Natural Disaster Deaths


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U.S. Vulnerability Is Increasing

  • Growing Population

  • Built Environment Growing

  • Threats Growing

  • Insufficient Application of Knowledge and Lessons Learned

  • Driven More by Social Than Natural Factors.


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On Vulnerability

  • “To understand what makes people vulnerable, we have to move away from the hazard itself to look at a much wider, and a much more diverse set of influences: the whole range of economic, social, cultural, institutional, political, and even psychological factors that shape people’s lives and create the environment that they live in…vulnerability is socially constructed.” (John Twigg, Benfield-Greg Hazard Research Center, University College, London 2001.)


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Disaster Losses Are Escalating

  • “Each decade, property damage has doubled or tripled in terms of constant dollars.” (Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus, 2001)

  • A Worldwide Trend


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Losses Projected to Get Worse

  • SanFran Earthquake Today--$225 Billion

  • “Losses of $100 billion from individual events, and perhaps unprecedented losses of life, loom in our future.” (NSTC Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction, 1996)


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Disasters Impact Differentially

Some Are More Vulnerable Than Others

  • The poor

  • The marginalized

  • The very young

  • The elderly

  • Single mothers with young children

  • The disabled


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Past & Current Practices Not Effective Enough

  • If what we are doing was adequate, then disaster losses would not have been and continue to be escalating.

  • Change Is Needed


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Disasters Don’t Kill PeoplePeople Kill People

People and Governments don’t do the right things

  • We Build In Floodplains

  • We Destroy Wetlands

  • We Try To Control Nature

  • We Build On Earthquake Faults

  • We Build On The Coast

  • Zoning, Code, Inspection, Enforcement Problems


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Failure Primarily Governmental

  • Public Safety -- Governmental Responsibility

  • Land-Use -- Governmental Responsibility

  • Building Codes -- Governmental Responsibility

  • Construction Standards – Gov’t Responsibility

  • Gov’ts that Facilitate Development in hazard areas

  • Emergency Management – Gov’t Responsibility


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Primarily A Political Problem

  • Meaning Elected and Appointed Officials

  • Meaning Lack Of Political Will

    “Unless the most senior government officials commit to implementing mitigation practices…disaster reduction will be of low priority.” (National Academy of Sciences, 1999)


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Culture of Disaster Prevention and Reduction

  • “We can no longer afford, financially or socially, to rely only on the expectations of emergency relief when disaster strikes. Much greater attention must be paid to preventive strategies aimed at saving lives and protecting resources and assets before they are lost.”

    (Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, UN, 1999)


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What To Do? Create Culture of Disaster Prevention

  • From Culture of Reaction to Prevention

  • Own Up To Responsibilities

  • Sustainable Development/Smart Growth

  • Mainstream/Integrate Emergency Management

  • The Time Is Now


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Emergency Management Must Continue to Evolve

  • “We cannot do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.” (John Salter, Australian Disaster EM College, 1999)

  • “Disaster Management needs to undergo fundamental reform to meet the needs and expectations of society in the next millennium.” (Neil Britton, NZ Ministry of EM, 1999)


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What To Do? Emer. Mgmt. Must Continue To Evolve

  • Champions for Disaster Reduction

  • Response/Reactive to Preventive/Proactive

  • Mainstream & Integrate Within Government

  • Mainstream & Integrate Within Communities

  • Acquire 21st Century Skills and Tools

  • Executive-Level Professional


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Education Is Key

“Although knowledge does not guarantee power over natural catastrophe,

it is a prime requisite for

disaster prevention.”

(Alexander, 2000)


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